College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Arabs, Berbers, race, hybridity, environmental change


Morocco’s inclusion in Middle Eastern Studies obscures from view a diverse culture that includes large Black Moroccan communities who reside primarily in Morocco’s desert provinces. “Blackness” and all of its corresponding complexity is not generally associated with the countries and cultures of North Africa in either academic or popular discourse. Black Moroccan communities challenge us to expand our understanding of the Middle East and Africa by forcing us to include Black identities that do not explicitly align themselves with the space of the African continent. How do we define Blackness and Africaness when it is outside of its traditional juxtaposition with Whiteness, Europe and the West? In this thesis I interrogate the social categories of Black Moroccans and the complexities of race and racism that are hidden when Morocco is simply defined as Arab. Through analysing the oasis community of Akka I explore the complex variables involved in identity formation including Morocco's colonial legacy, globalization and environmental change in order to illustrate the shortcomings of the discursive practices we use to explain the world.